Thirty years on from Michael Buerk’s reportage on the stricken Ethiopians, he (in no coincidence) is now on perennial telly-crap ‘I’m a non-entity please let me into there.’
With that segue out the way …
As everyone knows all too well this report so enraged also-ran rocker and Paula Yates’ other half Boomtown Prat Bob Geldof into action, demanding that WE give our ‘fockin’ money to charity. Something which WE did to no avail apparently as we then had him hector and guilt-shame us thrice more, 1989, 2004 and now 2014. At the fourth attempt you’d hope that things had been taken on board. In the words of Loyd Grossman, ‘Let’s look at the evidence.
This time it’s not hunger he’s pissed off about but the fear and moral-panic vehicle that goes by the name Ebola, (c.f. Sars, paedophiles, Avian flu, Commies, shoe bombs, the miners, foxes, Anthrax, Muslims, THEM) which by most accounts emanated from three African countries that had Western laboratories in that suddenly closed down with and subsequently denied all knowledge of. Hmmm …
So to stop the spread of this bug we all need to spend money (we haven’t got) on downloading this atrocity featuring such no marks, non-entities, dead-heads and peddlers of piss as Rita Bore-a (or is it Ri-Ri chicken, Smiley Virus or Simulaty Perry? hard to tell), Chris Martin (the skimmed-milk Bono), (Ne)Ed Sheeran-Aid, fog-horn of inanity Grimmy Grimmsville, some vloggers (yeah, bewildering) and (bafflingly) Underworld’s Karl Hyde with the cover designed by fartist, Tracy Emin. A ghoul’s who seemingly orchestrated by Chris Morris that took turns over-emoting down the mic. Thanks guys.
In defence of the original it had no real template or precedent (George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh aside, which incidentally he ended up losing out financially as a result of the tax laws, more of which to come), some (if not most or all) of the acts all turned up drunk or drugged, (Spandau Ballet, Status Quo) and oblivious to how history would perceive it; it seemed less a cynical manoeuvre for sales as opposed to another item on the itineraries. In these hyper-real times everyone knows how this will be seen, viewed, remembered, how a legacy can be created and sustained.
Lyrically it has always come under fire for crass generalisations (‘You mean Africa’s NOT a country, Bob?’) Yes, after 30 years times have changed and it is now understood by all that Christmas is an occurrence in Christian countries on the African continent too (it just doesn’t have sickly, history-splicing adverts for chocolate … yet). By clunkily changing only certain elements (Bono’s dispassionate phoning in of ‘tonight we’re reaching out …’) yet retaining others it’s another example of something being recontextualised and decontextualized rendering it bereft of meaning and meaningless.
Don’t forget Jagger and Bowie’s 1985 abomination, the garish cover of ‘Dancing in the Street’ by these dinosaurs’ (at the time, yes, 30 years ago they were the old guard, yesterday’s news, fogeys, critically past it if not commercially. Their resurrections would take place towards the end of the decade) an interpretation of an insurrectionary call to arms reimagined as an ego trip, a desire for relevance and above all piss-taking dancing. ‘Hey, Africa, dance the pain away’
We are perpetually reminded that this is a time of austerity, money is tight, and the old pearl that charity begins at home, but, it doesn’t. True the high streets are festooned with shops of numerous charities and you can’t walk anywhere without being accosted by a perma-grinned person desperate for your bank details.
As the season of over-consumption approaches it’s spend, give, borrow, give, spend, worry, spend, we are kept in a perpetual state of cognitive dissonance, a compromised conscience and colonised consciousness that screams ‘Hold on, what about the inequality here, the hunger, poverty and elderly who cannot afford heating?’. ‘Be grateful for what you’ve got’ there’s ‘Always someone else worse off, you’ve got the telly haven’t you?’
‘You’re too busy fighting your irrelevant battles to see what’s going on in your own back yard
‘Cos some of us are having a hard, hard time’
‘Food Bank Britain, ATOS Britain, UKIP Britain, with its endlessly declining pay, rising rents, spiralling debts. Home to the nine poorest areas of northern Europe as well as its single richest. A country riven by a series of fantastical, overlapping revelations, phone hacking, financial manipulation, VIP paedophiles, police corruption. A nexus of vested interests intent on occulting and exculpating it all.’
The tax evading aristrockracy, typified by none other than Knight of the Realm (translated as arse-licker) Geldof was interviewed by The Times a few years ago in a revealing exchange:
‘So how much is he worth? “I’m not telling you. But I am rich, let’s be clear.”
Anyway, he says, that is irrelevant. Is it? He wants governments to give more aid. But aid comes from tax. Wealthy people want to be as tax efficient as legally possible, restricting the amount of aid governments can afford to give.
Can he understand why some might get annoyed when rich rock stars campaign about poverty?
He explodes with rage. “I pay all my taxes. My time? Is that not a tax? I employ 500 people [through his production companies]. I have created business for the UK government. I have given my ideas. I have given half my life to this.”
So, ‘All animals are equal, yeah?’
BA30: ‘YOU’ give, we perform and advertise our wares, fair swap, Guv?’
Adele has incurred the wrath of the Celestial Being by opting to donate rather than get involved in the charade. ‘Adele is doing nothing,’ said Geldof at the weekend. ‘She’s not answering the phone… she’s not writing. She’s not recording. She doesn’t want to be bothered by anyone. She won’t pick up the phone to her manager. She’s bringing up a family, you know.’ Richard and Judy wholeheartedly recommend the following for your Yuletide stocking filler ‘Parenting Tips’ by Sir Bob Geldof: Chapter One – ‘How to hide the smack effectively.’ Bob, anywhere’s there’s food’s a good bet, mate.
Saint Bono of You Too (a man who avoids Irish taxes while simultaneously telling the Irish government to help developing countries) was asked a while ago on an Irish chat show, “you make demands of our time and money for your charity projects yet you can’t find it in yourself to pay for the street lights outside your house with income tax.” To invoke the profound wisdom of Richard Littlejohn, ‘You couldn’t make it up’.
Top bantz in the studio
Olly: ‘Great this, innit’
Nobby: P*ss off, mate, I’m trying to hear what my next scripted action/flirtation/stylised bed-head hair appointment is’
Why not create an original song, one that doesn’t have associations with the past? New cause, new song? Where did the money go all the other times the begging bowl was passed round? The lasting effects are that nothing’s changed. Blur’s Damon Albarn (who’s actually been to Africa) said “There are problems with our idea of charity, especially these things that suddenly balloon out of nothing and then create a media frenzy where some of that essential communication is lost and it starts to feel like it’s a process where if you give money you solve the problem, and really sometimes giving money creates another problem.”
Why haven’t Farrell Williams (the new Jacko) and Shill.I.Am (the new Lionel Richie) reinvigorated ‘We are the world?’ We have a right to know.
As always, in the words of Jimmy Cliff ‘There are more questions than answers’
Fleece the world indeed.